At least eight people have been killed in airstrikes launched by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in the northern province of Idlib, according to reports from activists on the ground.
Five civilians were killed yesterday after a strike in the in the village of Mshemshan in the western countryside of the governorate. The White Helmets civil defence units were called to the scene where they managed to rescue many of the injured.
5 civilians were killed and several injured, mostly women and children, as a result of an air strike with two missiles on the village of #Mshemshan in the western countryside of #Idlib. White Helmets teams worked to retrieve the victims and continue the rescue operation. pic.twitter.com/ozicIGSAyX
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) May 2, 2018
Meanwhile, three others, including at least one child, were killed after a cluster bomb exploded close to the town of Saraqeb; the bomb was a remnant of previous airstrikes on the area by the Syrian government.
A hospital further south in the province of Hama was also bombed out of service yesterday; it is the second medical facility to have been targeted this week, after the hospital in the town of Al-Zafraneh, the last in the Homs region, was also destroyed.
The news of intensified strikes in the north comes amid reports that opposition groups in Homs accepted a deal yesterday to quit their enclave and evacuate to Idlib after weeks of heavy fighting.
The agreement, which Russia brokered, would restore state rule, with fighters handing over their heavy weapons, an official in Homs province said.
Buses also arrived in the south of Damascus today to evacuate some 5,000 fighters and their family members, following an earlier group who left the enclave on Monday. The Syrian army, with Russian and Iranian support, have pushed to crush the last opposition pockets around the capital Damascus through a string of offensives, followed by withdrawal deals encouraging fighters to travel to Idlib.
However, last week, UN officials expressed concern that Idlib could be the next disaster zone in Syria
“My fear is the Syrian government will say the place is filled with ‘terrorists’ and therefore you can wage war like they did during the sieges in Aleppo and eastern Ghouta … Yes, there are bad guys wearing beards, but there are many more women and children and they deserve protection. You cannot wage war as if everyone is a terrorist, or else will it be a nightmare,” Jan Egeland, the head of the UN’s humanitarian task force for Syria, said at a conference for EU donors.
The comments were echoed by UN’s special envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura, who said: “We hope this would be an occasion for making sure that Idlib does not become new Aleppo, the new eastern Ghouta, because the dimensions are completely different.”